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2003 vintage report for Pericoota (New South Wales)

The winter finished dry, the spring finished dry, the summer finished dry and the autumn started dry. Add to this hot, windy days throughout spring and summer and the local growers have had a testing season. To balance out the hot days, nights seemed to be cooler than normal, relieving some stress on the vines. Rain in February was a blessing in Perricoota rather than a hindrance as in some other regions across Australia.

The season started on low to empty soil water profiles and low water allocations. Irrigations commenced much earlier compared with other years, placing further pressure on water allocations. Many growers were forced to purchase water at some stage of the year. The flowering period was friendly and on time and fruitset was generally quick and complete. However, the race was on for growers to get canopies up to size to give ripening confidence. One advantage of the dry season was the lack of disease pressure. Frosts and hail were also not an issue.

Generally harvest was early, by up to two weeks, due to the hot weather and lower yields. Whites were good to very good quality and seemed to be harvested at the same or slightly lower Baumes than other years. Chardonnay seemed to be the pick of the whites, producing nice melon and tropical fruit flavours. Reds seemed to have all the varieties ripening at once, especially towards the end of vintage. The bigger canopies, giving good sun protection, produced earlier ripened, better quality fruit, however late-picked Mataro and Grenache achieved good quality high Baumes for fortified production. Shiraz produced concentrated berry fruit flavours with strong colour on lower yielding crops. Cabernet has a leafy greenness and nice blackcurrant flavours with not as much eucalypt characters at this stage.